'Beyond ignorant': Man filmed 'body slamming' orca in New Zealand is fined

22 May 2024, 07:26 | Updated: 22 May 2024, 10:22

A 50-year-old man has been caught on camera jumping off a pleasure boat to try and "body slam" an orca in New Zealand, in what was branded "disgraceful" and "pathetic" behaviour.

"Shocking" footage of the man diving into the sea to land on the orca with his body has sparked uproar on social media after New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DoC) posted it on its Instagram account.

The man has been fined $600 (£288) as a consequence of his actions off the coast of Devonport, Auckland, in February, which saw him aiming for an adult male orca and a calf.

People can be heard cheering the man on before he starts swimming towards the orca in a second attempt to reach them.

At one point in the video, the man yells "I touched it" to the others on the boat, apparently asking whether they had managed to film his actions.

DoC Principal Investigation Officer Hayden Loper criticised the man's "irresponsible" behaviour as orca are "immensely powerful animals and this really could have ended horribly".

The officer said: "The video left us genuinely stunned.

"This is stupid behaviour and demonstrates a shocking disregard for the welfare of the orca," he said, explaining how the incident could have resulted in the "startled whale being injured, or the man responsible being harmed by the aggravated animal."

He added: "It's a very clear breach of the Marine Mammals Protection Act. Orca are classified as whales under conservation legislation and it is illegal to swim with whales, or disturb or harass any marine mammal."

The footage sparked outrage on social media, with people saying the man's behaviour was "disgusting", a "disgrace" and that a heftier fine was warranted.

One Instagram user commented they "hope this doesn't cause any harm/fear for the orca in the future".

"Some people are beyond ignorant," they added.

Another commented: "This is horrific behaviour and the ignorant disregard for nature is heartbreaking."